Friday, June 17, on the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification which was held on the theme “Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People”, the United Nations in Haiti acknowledged the efforts of Haitian institutions to increase protected areas and called to the search of sustainable alternatives for stopping practices that promote soil erosion, such as logging. They reiterated their support to the country in its commitments to increase good environmental and agricultural practices
UN experts in Haiti emphasize that a management and responsible environmental protection at the institutional and community level, as well as spatial planning are essential for economic and social development of Haiti.
They point out that deforestation is one of the issues that most concern the United Nations experts, since it accelerates soil erosion and declining rainfall, factors related to the 3 years of drought exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon and climate change.
This has led to 70% of crop losses, rising prices of basic foodstuffs and lack of job opportunities in the agricultural sector, as well as increasing the number of food insecure people in Haiti. This degradation also reduces access to water in a country where 42% of the population still lacks access to safe drinking water and 72% lack adequate sanitation.
The vegetation cover is very low, although the lack of updated data does not allow to accurately determine the rate [generally estimated at between 2-5%]. One of the factors contributing to deforestation is the cutting of trees for charcoal production, which in 2012 was used in 92% of Haitian households for cooking. According to FAO, 10, 000 bags of charcoal are consumed every day in Haiti. In addition, soil erosion greatly increases the vulnerability to natural hazards.
In response, the United Nations encourages national efforts towards the efficiency of means of production, natural resource conservation and restoration of degraded lands through improved agroforestry practices, environmental and agro-ecological, as well as the conservation of local varieties.